High school students from the Berlin Brethren Church ventured on a mission trip to serve in Guatemala for a week. The team of 17 went with the goals of distributing food to impoverished areas of town, facilitate children’s ministry, and assist in the construction of steel rafters and a tin roof addition for the growing local church.
One of my favorite memories from the trip, and one of the best experiences of community, actually happened over a soccer game. The Church and community of Tiquisate challenged our group to a match Tuesday evening and the stakes were high. What started as a fun, casual game quickly became competitive once the first goal was scored. For an hour straight, everyone ran up and down the field drenched in sweat. Throughout the match, opposing players cheered one another on with high fives and shouts. Before long, a chunk of the Tiquisate community crowded around the fences and sat on bleachers to see what all the commotion was about. We felt like semi-pros! After the match, everyone posed for a picture and both groups left recounting memories and relationships now forged through a simple soccer match. The game helped reinforce our mission of loving one another and to emphasize we were there to share life together.
Though we faced challenges, most were overcome pretty quickly. The language barrier was workable with the assistance of translators. The heat was manageable when we drank lots of water and sought shade when needed. The smell of sweat and dirty clothes became a reminder of hard work and ministry advancement. But deep down, one thing lingered throughout the first part of the trip that we had a hard time shaking; the urge to ask questions.
Over and over, we noticed the natural human response to seek details when there was uncertainty. During a team debrief early in the trip, my wife simply said, “Just show up.” It was a phrase that defined our trip and forced us to serve in our new context like Jesus. “Just show up” was a reminder to be in the moment, be present where you are, and watch as Jesus was already moving around us. But for us to notice and join in, we needed to show up and let the questions resolve themselves in due time.
In the gospels, Jesus repeatedly has his best moments when he just showed up. Typically, on the way to another town, or in the middle of a given task, Jesus is interrupted and a ministry opportunity presented itself. And in typical Jesus fashion, he stopped to take the time to be with people. He didn’t wait until he had all the details or a five-point game plan. You might even say, he “just showed up.” Imagine if Jesus would have kept his head down and continued on to Capernaum, or Galilee. Or, would have passed on an opening to hear the cries of the blind on the side of the road, or notice a woman who reached out in desperation to brush against the fringe of his robe. We might be talking about Jesus differently if he had done so. But luckily, he takes the time to notice and “just shows up.”
Our soccer match might seem like just a game to some. But for many of us that Tuesday night, it was us “just showing up” and joining Jesus’ work around us. And for the rest of the week, it was our goal to be present in every moment, like Jesus.
Are you showing up?